Of the many orca encounters enjoyed by boaters off Southern California last week, perhaps the most thrilling spectacle involved killer whales hunting sea lions next to a small boat.
While viewers don’t witness a kill, Trowbridge assured in her Instagram description, “The orcas were successful in their hunt.”
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Her footage, captured near Anacapa Island off Ventura County, shows the agile orcas repeatedly passing and swiping at sea lions with their flukes, at times spraying passengers.
Trowbridge described the stirring exhibition:
“One of the most exhilarating encounters I’ve ever had happened just the other day, when a desperate pair of sea lions tried using our boat to shelter themselves from a hungry pod of killer whales (CA140Bs). One of the most amazing things about orcas is their unparalleled problem-solving skills that make them such effective predators.
“The whales made sure to capitalize on every opportunity [when] the sea lions strayed too far from their cover, slowly whittling down their prey. It was incredibly intense to be in the middle of this deadly game of cat and mouse; likely the closest I’ll ever feel to being ‘hunted’ by an orca myself.”
Transient killer whales are more commonly spotted off Central California and points north. Encounters off Southern California are rare.
The encounter with the transient pod occurred just after Eastern Tropical Pacific killer whales, infrequent visitors from Mexico, had spent days hunting dolphins between San Diego and Los Angeles.
–Top image, captured by Delaney Trowbridge, shows transient orcas beneath the surface near Anacapa Island